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How to Sell Your iPhone for the Most Money

by on August 21, 2022
in Phones and Mobile, Cell Phones, Tips & How-Tos, Money Savers :: 0 comments

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If you paid for your iPhone in full up-front or paid it off from your carrier in installments, it's now yours to sell. Selling your smartphone online is simple, often just requiring you to pick your product, answer a few questions about its condition, and ship it off with a prepaid label to get your cash. The only difficult part is figuring out where to sell it and what it's worth. To help you out, we've rounded up the major retailers and checked the price of a 64GB iPhone 12. When estimating costs, we said the phone was on AT&T, in excellent condition, has all of the original iPhone accessories, and was able to be powered up without problem. But before we dive into what each retailer offered, here are some general rules of thumb on what buyers will – and won't – pay for:

  • After a new model phone is released, the previous generation's model will fall drastically. So if you're looking forward to the next big smartphone announcement, it's best to lock in a trade-in price for your current smartphone beforehand.
  • Phones on different networks may be worth different amounts. Unlocked phones tend to be worth the most.
  • Your phone's current condition has a big impact on its value. Phones in like-new condition earn a premium (That's why we recommend you always use an iPhone case and screen protector). Cracked, or otherwise damaged phones, won't be worth as much. Phones that don't work at all may not be worth anything. Though some companies will be interested in buying them for parts, most trade-in programs will say no. 
  • The older your phone is, the less it will be worth. Gear that's more than a couple of years old may not be worth anything at all, but you may be able to recycle it for free.
  • Different color items may sell for different values, so be sure to select the right color.
  • Personalization counts against you – a phone with personalized engraving will be worth less.
  • Many trade-in programs want the power cable and sometimes other original iPhone accessories. If you don't have these, the phone will be worth less.

Now that you know what to expect, let's look at the trade-in programs available and what they'll pay.

In-store trade-in programs provide immediate credit

In-store programs are the easiest way to quickly get cash for your device. All you have to do is take your phone to the local store and hand it over. You'll get a gift card for the phone's value immediately – or if you don’t agree with their assessment, you can take your phone back and walk away.

Usually, these programs don't pay top dollar, though right now Apple is paying the most for a 64GB iPhone 12. All in-store programs pay you via a gift card, meaning you have to spend your money where you traded it in.

In-Store Trade-in Options

  How it works What they'll pay for a 64GB iPhone 12 When they'll pay
Apple Store Take your smartphone to an Apple Store and talk to a representative to evaluate your trade-in. $400 towards a new purchase Immediately, towards the purchase of a new device
Best Buy Take your smartphone and all accessories, manuals, and packaging to your local Best Buy and talk to a representative. Trade-in isn't available at all locations and some locations may only allow you to trade in items purchased at Best Buy, with an original receipt. $290 as a Best Buy gift card Immediately, towards the purchase of a new device
AT&T Take your smartphone to an AT&T Store and talk to a representative to evaluate your trade-in. $300 as AT&T promotion credit Immediately, towards the purchase of a new device
T-Mobile Take your smartphone to a T-Mobile Store and talk to a representative to evaluate your trade-in. $280 as credit toward a new device Immediately
Verizon Take your smartphone to a Verizon Store and talk to a representative to evaluate your trade-in. $276 as an account credit or Verizon Wireless Gift Card Within 1-2 billing cycles
Prices as of 8/21/2022.

Since all of these retailers pay in gift cards, your choice is really based on where you want to spend your money.

Online trade-in services will give you cash if you're willing to wait

If you don't need cash right now, a wide variety of online sales sites often give you better pay and, sometimes, options beyond gift cards. However, if the trade-in site disagrees with your assessment of the quality of your device, they may not pay as much as you expect – and you could be stuck with the lower rate or paying extra to get your phone back. If you use your carrier's online trade-in option, you can't get your phone back if they decide to pay you a lower amount. Once you send the phone in, it's theirs.

Another thing you'll want to be aware of when you sell online is how long the price you're offered is good for: some require you to send in your phone quickly while others lock in your offer for weeks, giving you time to pick up a new smartphone before sending in the old one.

Currently, Apple is offering the best trade-in deal at $400 for a 64GB iPhone 12. However, you won't receive cash. Your best cash offer is from SellCell at $370 through a buyer called Mac Me an Offer. SellCell doesn't complete the transaction, the site just lists the best values, so you'll want to research the terms of the transaction before committing.

Online Trade-in Options

  How it works What they'll pay for a 64GB iPhone 12 in excellent condition (AT&T model except for carrier trade-in) When they'll pay How soon do you need to ship your device If they don't think your device is worth the quoted value
Amazon Select what you're trading in, answer a few questions about its condition, then print a prepaid shipping label to send your item in. $311 as an Amazon gift card Within 12 business days of receiving your phone Within 7 days Accept the evaluated price or have the device returned to you free of charge.
Apple Select what you're trading in, answer a few questions about its condition, and Apple will ship you a prepaid shipping kit or let you print a prepaid shipping label to send your item in. $400 as an Apple gift card 3-5 days after receiving your phone Within 14 days Accept the evaluated price or have the device returned to you free of charge.
Back Market Select what you're trading in, answer a few questions about its condition, then print a prepaid shipping label to send your item. $279 to your bank account Within 6 days of receiving your phone Within 15 days Accept the evaluated price or have the device returned to you free of charge.
Best Buy Select what you're trading in, answer a few questions about its condition, then print a prepaid UPS shipping label to send your item. $290 as a Best Buy gift card 7-9 days after receiving your phone Must be received within 14 days Accept the evaluated price or have the device returned to you at your cost.
Decluttr Select what you're trading in, answer a few questions about its condition, then print a prepaid UPS shipping label to send your item. $321 by direct deposit or PayPal Usually within 24 hours of receiving your phone for PayPal or within 3 days for direct deposit Within 28 days Accept the evaluated price or have the device returned to you free of charge.
Gazelle Select what you're trading in, answer a few questions about its condition, then print a prepaid USPS or FedEx shipping label to send your item. $290 by check, PayPal or as an Amazon gift card 3-5 business days after receiving your phone for Amazon and PayPal, add 7-10 business days for a check Within 30 days Accept the evaluated price or have the device returned to you free of charge.
SellCell Select what you're trading in, answer a few questions about its condition, then SellCell will show you the best offers on its network of professional buyers. Buyers are shown with ratings by the Better Business Bureau, Trustpilot and Ebay, among others. Once you accept an offer, you will be sent to the buyer's site to complete the transaction. $370 (with original accessories) by PayPal unless otherwise noted by the buyer Depends on the buyer, usually 14 to 28 days Depends on the buyer, but usually, soon after you receive your shipping label  Depends on the buyer. Be sure to check the policy.
Walmart Select what you're trading in, answer a few questions about its condition, then print a prepaid shipping label to send your item. $279 by Walmart eGift card Within 2 to 4 weeks of receiving your phone Within 7 days Accept the evaluated price or have the device returned to you free of charge.
AT&T Select what you're trading in, answer a few questions about its condition, then print a prepaid shipping label to send your item in. Up to $300 as AT&T promotion credit Within 2-3 billing cycles Within 30 days You'll be paid the evaluated price.
T-Mobile Select what you're trading in, answer a few questions about its condition, then print a prepaid shipping label to send your item in. $280 as credit toward a new device Up to 2 billing cycles Within 30 days You'll be credited the evaluated price.
Verizon Select what you're trading in, answer a few questions about its condition, then Verizon will send you a prepaid shipping kit or let you print a prepaid shipping label to send your item in. $276 as an account credit or Verizon Wireless Gift Card Within 1-2 billing cycles Within 15 days You'll be paid the evaluated price.
Prices as of 8/21/2022.

Before you sell

You need to take a few steps before you ship off your iPhone.

1. Unpair your Apple Watch if you have one.

2. Back up your iPhone.

  1. Open Settings.
  2. Select "Apple ID."
  3. Select "iCloud." Toggle on all of the apps you want to backup to iCloud. If you want your photos and video backed up, select "Photos" and toggle on "iCloud Photos." However, once you turn on iCloud Photos, any action you take on your phone will be replicated in iCloud. So if you delete a photo or video, it will delete in your iCloud backup. If you don't want to back up your photos to iCloud, back up your iPhone to your computer
  4. Select "iCloud Backup."
  5. Toggle on "iCloud Backup." If you already have iCloud backup on, you'll see the last time you backed up to iCloud. If you're short on iCloud storage, go to Settings > Apple ID > iCloud and select "Manage Storage." There you can select "Backups." If you have old phone backups you don't need, you can delete those to regain space. You should always leave one backup for your iPhone.

3. Turn off Find My

  1. Open Settings.
  2. Select "Apple ID."
  3. Select "Find My."
  4. Select "Find My iPhone" and toggle it off.

4. Sign out of iCloud and App Store

  1. Open Settings.
  2. Select "Apple ID."
  3. Scroll down and select "Sign out."
  4. Enter your Apple ID and password and select "Turn Off." (If you're selling an old iPhone and don't know the password, check out your options for recovering your Apple ID password.)

5. Reset your iPhone to factory settings.

  1. Open Settings.
  2. Select "General."
  3. Select "Transfer or Reset iPhone."
  4. Select "Erase All Content and Settings." If you have Find My turned on, you'll be prompted to enter your Apple ID and password to turn off Find My.

Updated on 8/21/2022 with pricing for 64GB iPhone 12 and current trade-in policies

[woman handing over iPhone via BigStockPhoto.com]

For the past 20+ years, Techlicious founder Suzanne Kantra has been exploring and writing about the world’s most exciting and important science and technology issues. Prior to Techlicious, Suzanne was the Technology Editor for Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia and the Senior Technology Editor for Popular Science. Suzanne has been featured on CNN, CBS, and NBC.



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